Stanford Students Launch Podcast, Aim to Democratize and Diversify Tech Discourse

Stanford Students Launch Podcast, Aim to Democratize and Diversify Tech Discourse

Law school course work is known for sparking critical discussions. For several students in Data: Privacy, Property and Security co-taught by Paul Goldstein and Tom Rubin, the class was the spark for so much discussion, they decided to launch a new podcast to keep the conversation going.

Afi Blackshear, Jessica Seamands, August Gweon, and Karl Kaellenius, all JD ’23, started work on The Periphery last year and are launching the show with ten episodes they recorded over the summer. Their aim is to simplify and democratize tech discourse, but also to bring a layer of diversity to it.

“The class was great, but we were getting frustrated because so many of the experts in this area are white guys. We saw a need to access broader perspectives and new ideas. So, I said let’s create a podcast. That became The Periphery, an initiative to diversify tech discourse with accessible, entertaining, and insightful content for those who — like us — have struggled to understand technology and how it shapes our lives,” says Blackshear who co-produces the show with Gweon. “We believe that when more people are involved in this discourse, our technologies and innovations will reflect the values and identities of all users rather than the exclusive few who dictate the status quo. To that effect, we aim to tell stories that bring cyberspace to life as we collectively grapple with how to think about our interconnected world.”

“Everyone is online, yet the internet and tech in general are inaccessible and indecipherable. As a result, a select few govern our digitized experiences,” says Gweon. “Unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg or one of his friends, you’re probably on the periphery too!”

Shows in the first season’s lineup cover topics such as algorithmic bias, antitrust , cloud computing, and cryptocurrencies, with guests including Former FTC Chair Bill Kovacic, Cloudera founder and former Oracle Executive Mike Olson, Stanford Behavior Design Lab Researcher and Mindful Ventures Managing Partner Ari Qayumi, Cybersecurity Experts Justin Sherman (of the Atlantic Council) and Matt Devost, and Senior Attorney in Microsoft’s Office of Responsible Artificial Intelligence Catherine Romero — to name a few.

“This is a special time in world history. We’re dealing with major tech issues that didn’t exist five years ago,” says Gweon. “And we think that there are many others who share our concerns and questions about technology, but they don’t have the time or resources to dig into these issues in the way that we can. We hope to answer key questions and offer a more humanistic approach to technology.”

While law will be a central focus of many of their interviews, the team hopes that the audience will be broad—and include those on the periphery of these weighty technology issues. “The ultimate goal of this podcast is to bring those perspectives to the center,” says Blackshear.

You can download The Periphery on all major podcast channels including Apple, Spotify, Tik Tok, Soundcloud, Instagram, Youtube, and Patreon—and read an introduction to the founders on this Instagram/podcast feed.

Stanford Students Launch Podcast, Aim to Democratize and Diversify Tech Discourse 1